Links 11/29/14

42 Million Dead In Bloodiest Black Friday Weekend On Record Onion

Oddly, Hypocrisy Rooted in High Morals LiveScience. Do they have the causality backwards, as in some of the worst cheats happen to be particularly aggressive in how they rationalize it?

James Watson to sell Nobel Prize medal Financial Times

Uber faces a class action lawsuit over use of credit reports during background checks Pando

Has LSD Matured? 2×2 project (martha r)

Calling Out the Corruption in Medical Care Patient Safety. The problem with health metrics.

The Racial Disparity of Ebola CounterPunch

Mong Kok “Shopping Revolution” as Occupiers Heed CY’s Call to Hit the Stores HongWrong

Sinking crude could boost Japanese economy Nikkei

Japanese Sovereign Debt Yield Turns Negative WSJ Economics

Banks fight back in mortgage price war Financial Times

Misplaced Optimism and Fears on Greece Beat the Press

Sanctioned Russian firms struggle to turn East for bonds -sources Reuters

Russia: Band of brothers Economist


AP: U.S. Mercenaries Working With Al-Qaeda No Scandal – Just A “Difficulty” Moon of Alabama

UN Lists Four Ways US Has Impeded Justice for Victims of Torture Marcy Wheeler

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Economic Failures of HTTPS Encryption Bruce Schneier

How to stop NSA from snooping on you The Hill


Ferguson Protest Shuts Down Mall Near St. Louis Associated Press

Ferguson Protesters Temporarily Shut Down San Francisco Train Service Talking Points Memo

Darren Wilson May Not Face Charges, But Ferguson’s Police Department Is Still on the Hook Alternet

Ferguson Is the Wrong Tragedy to Wake America Up Time (Chuck L)

A little reminder: 20 years after being ordered to tally cop shootings, the DOJ still isn’t doing it Daily Kos (Angry Bear)

My Insurance Company Killed Me, Despite Obamacare Daily Beast (Kim Kaufman)

New York State blocks free medical services at event Reuters (martha r)

Whither Markets?

OPEC Presents: Q4 and Deflation Ilargi

OPEC might get the last laugh on oil MarketWatch

OPEC Policy Ensures U.S. Shale Crash, Russian Tycoon Says Bloomberg

Learning about Black Friday from Google Trends Walter Kurtz

Conflicting Shopping Headlines: NY Times “Brisk Sales”, Yahoo “Black Friday Shopping Crowds Thin” Michael Shedlock. Notice New York Times headline as of midnight: Up Early in Pursuit of Deals, Black Friday Shoppers Find Small Crowds

Public Debt: How the classical economists looked upon it Yanis Varioufakis

Class Warfare

>On Black Friday, Walmart Is Pressed for Wage Increases New York Times

Working for Walmart Is Even Worse Than You Think Alternet

Wells Fargo accused of discriminating against minority and female customers in Chicago Reuters

HOTEL 22: The Dark Side Of Silicon Valley Business Insider

‘Being homeless is better than working for Amazon‘ Guardian. Circulate widely.

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

Coyote at Twilight

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. David Lentini

    What About the Ethics of Publishing Nonsense Research

    From the Live Science article:
    Reynolds and University of Washington colleague Tara Ceranic surveyed about 230 college students with an average age of 21 who were enrolled in an upper-level business course. The survey measured moral identity with 12 questions about the importance of certain characteristics, such as generosity, willingness to work hard, honesty and compassion, and whether things like clothing, books, activities and friends were associated with the moral characteristics.

    Students were also asked whether they had engaged in each of 13 cheating behaviors, including using cheat sheets (crib notes), copying from another student and turning in work completed by someone else.

    Ok, so let’s see how many problems with the study we can find in about two minutes: Very select population (college business majors with average age of 21); very small group (230); 12 questions covering very absract qualities; 13 problematic behaviors. So, we have a very under-powered study among a very narrowly selected group of individuals, covering the sorts of moral issues that have been the subject of great literature for millenia.

    And from this we draw sweeping conlcusions about all human beings, especaily undermining the idea of having high ideas, suggesting that those with high morals are really the worst sorts of liars.

    No. The problem once again is with the (missing) ethics of publising pseudo-scientific research both a the “professional” literature and in the popular press. Studies like this are worse than useless, since they provide a basis for unfounded biases in place of good ‘ol ignorance. Why this crap is propgated for reasons other than being the target of scorn is beyond me.

  2. abynormal

    “But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.
    “Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)”
    “Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.”
    The sum total of all that experience can be encapsulated in a few simple rules for the future
    1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits.
    Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;
    2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;
    3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;
    4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;
    5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;
    6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

    Frank Serpico

    1. pretzelattack

      they didn’t count iraqis killed in iraq, and we don’t count the number of people killed nationally by police. they don’t want to know, tho i guess you could find out by going through news reports.

      1. Dino Reno

        You hit upon the most important driver of change. Give us the goddamn number! It will be large. It will be shocking. It will be transformative. But if we take it in stride, then we will all know and accept we live in a repressive police state and racist, gun crazy society. Please no more “appropriate use of force.” for media consumption. Twenty-four people were killed by police in Utah last year. Utah!
        For perspective, I read that England last year had one police shooting that resulted in a wounded suspect.

        1. Oregoncharles

          England had some very prominent dead suspects a few years ago, at least one of whom was very famously innocent. Perhaps they actually learned a lesson from that.

      2. neo-realist

        More specifically count the number of UNARMED people killed nationally by the police. I will grant that cops are trained to shoot people with real guns who look like they are going to used them and in quite a few instances may have justifiable cause to do so. But when we start to differentiate and quantify the number of cops who shoot unarmed people in epidemic proportion due to anger over a suspect’s personal behavior or racial animus, then we’ve a stronger foundation for working to effect institutional change in law enforcement.

        1. bruno marr

          Differentiating between the armed and unarmed could be problematic. Recently I had a discussion with a police officer while in my front yard. During our “discussion” he admonished me to not “point” at him. Because his partner (standing 30 feet away, in midday)) could misconstrue it as a “gun”. And I would be counted in which category? And by whom? , if his partner did just that.

          1. Jason Ipswitch

            In some jurisdictions, having a sharp object within “lunging distance” will result as you being considered “armed”. And that’s without getting into the possibility of “drop guns”.

    2. fresno dan

      I keep going back to the Dorner case – police shot a totally innocent Latina – mind you, someone of a different race and SEX, who had not fired a guy (they mistook, or so they said, newspapers slamming into the ground as gunshots) and not only were they not charged (really – you can shoot at someone), they weren’t even fired.

      Americans despite their incessant braying, have less desire for freedom than cows.

  3. not_me

    From The history of the political economy of public debt by Nicholas J. Theocarakis (via Yanis Varioufakis):

    “The public debt becomes one of the most powerful levers of primitive
    accumulation. As with the stroke of an enchanter’s wand, it endows unproductive
    money with the power of creation and thus turns it into capital, without forcing it
    to expose itself to the troubles and risks inseparable from its employment in
    industry or even in usury. The state’s creditors actually give nothing away, for
    the sum lent is transformed into public bonds, easily negotiable, which go on
    functioning in their hands just as so much hard cash would.

    At their birth the great banks, decorated with national titles were only
    associations of private speculators, who placed themselves by the side of
    governments and, thanks to the privilege they received, were in a position to
    advance money to those governments. Hence the accumulation of the national
    debt has no more infallible measure than the successive rise in the stocks of these
    banks, whose full development dates from the founding of the Bank of England
    in 1694. The Bank of England began by lending its money to the government at
    8 per cent; at the same time it was empowered by Parliament to coin money out
    of the same capital, by lending it a second time to the public in the form of banknotes.

    Before someone says that all fiat is national debt, fine. But let’s not pay any interest on it. In fact, beyond legitimate household liquidity needs, there should be a charge for the risk-free storage of fiat.

  4. Ben Johannson

    Japanese bond yields are now negative, meaning buyers are paying a premium to hold government debt. Weren’t DCR and the usual suspects telling us recently that hyperinflation was about to explode?

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Japan’s negative rates stem largely from the BOJ’s massive bond-buying program aimed at lifting the nation out of deflation. After the bank’s move to expand its easing measures last month, the BOJ is now buying roughly the equivalent of all new debt issued by the government.’

      Buy up the entire fresh supply of government debt, and it’s not hard to drive the price over par, producing a negative yield to maturity.

      At fractional interest rates, Japan’s debt (214% of GDP) is being serviced at a cost of only 1.2% of GDP annually. But at the 5% nominal yield on JGBs which prevailed as recently as the early 1990s, Japan’s debt service would soar to over 10% of GDP … a massive fiscal shock which could only be financed with more monetized debt. That’s where it all goes parabolic.

      Stated otherwise, Japan is totally dependent on keeping inflation and interest rates at near-zero levels. But history shows that inflation and interest rates have regularly climbed to double digits every few decades. Betting on ‘ZIRP forever’ is not supported by past data.

      Fiscally, Japan is an open pail of gasoline. It can sit there indefinitely with nothing bad happening. Drop a cigarette into it, though, and it will flash over before you even hear the blast.

      Thank you for not smoking.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why don’t they try People’s Debt, instead of government debt?

        Issue debt in the name of the People (to give that money to the People) and let the BOJ buy up all new People’s Debt. That will put money where it’s needed to get their economy going.

      2. craazyman

        what difference does it make, since they’re paying interest to themselves?

        if debt service went up 10 times, so would interest income! they’d just cancel out.

        It just goes to show one of the reasons why economics is a mental disorder — because for any given economic reality (E), there exists a multiplicity of self-consistent quantification systems (Q). As a result, all predictions for any given future state of the economy (S1) derived from extrapolation of E by Q1 are indeterminate, since Q2 . . . Qn are also valid quantifications and can be shown not to imply S1.

        This is a formal mathematical construct of the Quanity/Form confusion, where Form is open to a multiplicity of quantifications, however the quantifiers suppose their particular method is itself solely determinative of future states of Form at time t=n from its initial Form state at t=0. Very lost puppies, all of them. LOL Nothing like math to clear something up. ahahahhahah

        1. fresno dan

          “what difference does it make, since they’re paying interest to themselves?”

          Didn’t they use to say (regarding debt), “what difference does it matter, since we owe the debt to ourselves’

          Well, maybe the debt we owe to ourselves don’t matter, but when you owe it to Bank of America or Wells Fargo, they kick you out of your house. And the sheriffs move all of your stuff out of your house when its foreclosed, and if you can’t afford to move it, well – – it just disappears.

          Its always funny (no its not) whose debts are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Treasury (OH, I mean the FED, like that is meaningful) and whose aren’t….

        2. jgordon

          That’s some pretty fallacious thinking. The Japan is not the world’s current empire and the Yen is not the reserve currency. Abusing their currency too much will lead directly and precipitously to a collapse in international trade.

          1) Personally I consider that to be a very positive outcome for everyone involved–so I’m actually quite optimistic about them destroying the international value of their currency. 2) The US is on the same course as Japan, however there being still some residual value yet in having the world’s empire and the reserve currency, the US’s rickety financial/monetary system could limp along for quite some time looting resources, destroying sustainable indigenous peoples and cultures, and spreading ecological devastation everywhere its malignant and diseased appendages touch.

          “LOL Nothing like math to clear something up”–this is pretty depraved if you actually believe this. We are not dealing with math here, but ideologues creatively arranging numbers in ways that “prove” that they are right. Meanwhile there are a hundred or a thousand non-quantifiable variables that can and will throw a monkey wrench into the ideologues’ carefully laid graphs. This demonstration of linear, non-comprehensive thinking clearly shows why all human monetary systems and societies are randomly subject to sudden, catastrophic collapses. The moment a variable that was unaccounted and unplanned for causes a problem, the whole system implodes. This time is not different.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘Anyone claiming high income on a blog comment is usually earning just above minimum wage.’ — Ben Johannson, Nov 23, 2014 @ 7:37 am

          1. Ben Johannson

            Jim, are you less than bright? I didn’t claim a high income, I challenged you to a wager. No cojones?

        2. jgordon

          Such wagers are meaningless for the same reason that it’s pointless to involve yourself in any activity related to finance unless you are one of the insider elites. We do not live in a system where things happen because of rational cause and effect sequences. We live in a system where the elites centrally plan what happens and who wins/loses–with occasional bouts of unplanned chaos that no one can predict or control. Trying to predict anything that happens in finance is exactly the same as trying to predict where a particular hydrogen will be in a given volume of air at certain point in the future: it’s fundamentally a fallacy that such information is currently available to anyone no matter which ideological model said anyone subscribes too.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        In the early 1990s…

        1. Prevailing rates of inflation and bond prices around the world were higher than now, even with many countries (notably the US and UK) in nasty recessions

        2. In the early 1990s, no one knew how bad the debt hangover in Japan was. Even to this day, it is remarkably hard to put together the debt outstanding in various sectors of the Japanese economy on the eve of its crisis (since it didn’t have the drama of our Lehman bankruptcy, most date it to the peak of the Nikkei at the end of December 2009).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do they have caged victims there, now with coming down with Stockholm syndrome? What is happening there?

      If I had any money there, I’d buy fresh organic food futures and hold till expiration. Don’t know if the counterparties are trustworthy though.

  5. ambrit

    That last line in the NY State blocks free medical care article is a classic of Orwellian speech: “They,(the New York State Department of Health,) are just doing their job protecting them public (from free dental help for the poor)” said (one of the conference organizers.) Is Calvinism the official state religion of New York now?

      1. pretzelattack

        just like they protect the homeless from free food handed out by unapproved charities, and prosecute the food gangsters, even if they are 90 years old. moral hazard, you know.

    1. ginnie nyc

      This cancellation is really very bad. Even people with Medicaid have trouble getting dental treatment in New York State. It takes an average of FOUR visits just to get your teeth cleaned at the university-affiliated clinics. The first visit is paperwork making sure your sufficiently indigent, and x-rays taken whether you need them or not. The second visit they look in your mouth. The third visit they determine what work should be done. The fourth they might actually clean your teeth. It’s a helluva lot of trouble, and too much if you’re working or too damn ill to keep returning. And trying to find a private dentist that takes Medicaid is like looking for hen’s teeth – especially in Manhattan. Too bad if you have trouble travelling to eastern Brooklyn or the northern Bronx to get your teeth looked at.

      1. Lambert Strether

        It would be simpler, and it would probably be cheaper, to give them all-expenses-paid round trip tickets to Mexico or Thailand, and let them have their dental work done there. Say, $5000 tops for the whole deal? The dental work would be better, too.

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘Christie’s said [James Watson’s] gold medal, the first Nobel Prize to be sold by a living recipient, could fetch as much as $3.5m when it is auctioned in New York on Thursday. The reserve price is $2.5m.’

    Next up: Kurgman auctions off his Economics prize. But since he originally got it free with an extra order of shrimp tacos, Christie’s has tactfully pointed him toward Ebay as ‘a more promising venue.’

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I will have to make sure his is not a fake made in China.

      That’s a lesson I have learned from antique hunting.

    2. ambrit

      Oh, come on now Jim. Krugman is more savvy than that. He’ll auction off a mathematical model describing his Medal. Then the winning bidder will pay him off with bitcoin, deposited into a Cayman Islands bank account, no doubt. By the way, this could become a new definition of Stockholm Syndrome.

        1. skippy

          The Council of Nicea had a Nobell too… they just had the presence of mind to award it post morte… Sainthood.

    3. Luke The Debtor

      If Linus Pauling’s visa was not revoked,and his ability to travel abroad taken away, he would more than likely have traveled to Europe and attended conferences where it became apparent that his single helix model of DNA was wrong. Instead, Pauling was harassed by the US government and his colleagues as un-American. His stance against above ground testing of nuclear weapons would eventually lead to his second Nobel Prize, in peace.

      There is some history for you.

  7. Dino Reno

    Russia, Band of Brothers.

    Wow, is this a rich vein of irony or satirism or what?

    ” Instead, Ms Dawisha writes, he (Putin) transformed “an oligarchy independent of and more powerful than the state into a corporatist structure in which oligarchs served at the pleasure of state officials, who themselves gained and exercised economic control…both for the state and for themselves.” The result is that 110 individuals control 35% of Russia’s wealth, according to Ms Dawisha.”

    Substitute America for Russia and we have lift off.

    And then this (sorry, I can’t help myself):

    “The overall thesis of Ms Dawisha’s book is that Mr Putin’s advance to power was not accidental but part of a pre-meditated plan. Furthermore, the system that has emerged in Russia was created by a group of men who followed Mr Putin. “The group did not get lost on the path to democracy,” she writes. “They never took that path.” But hindsight can be misleading. Ms Dawisha imposes her view of today’s Russia on to the time when Mr Putin came to power. In fact, Russia’s descent into the corporatist, nationalist state that it has now become was by no means predetermined.

    “In a pluralistic state, the scandalous, ugly stories about Mr Putin and his associates would bring down the government. In Russia they have had little effect. Part of the reason lies in the Kremlin’s control of television, the main source of information for most Russians. ”

    My God, what could they have been thinking? Wait a minute, I think I know because it sounds vaguely familiar.
    Too good.

    1. Banger

      I was going to say the same thing. The Economist magazine has become a highly ideological and political magazine over the years preaching a kind of high-church Imperialism very sophisticated but hiding the sharp repressive teeth of the system behind a veneer of decent prose. The slant of the review was pretty sad for anyone following the Russian situation since the fall of the Soviet Union. Saint Yegor Gaigar was more the cause of the disasters (largely unreported in the West) than anything the KGB did. It was the reaction to the horror of the early 90s where Washington “consultants” acting with gangsters robbed the state which built many a McMansion in the Washington area.

      Now, to be clear, in order to gain power ANY ruling elite needs to make deals with people with real power so I’m sure Putin made deals with oligarchs and gansters and whoever had troops in the field so to speak. What the Economist consistently misses is that imagines a West that is democratic and pluralistic–I don’t know about Europe but I know that is absolutely not the case in the USA and, increasingly, Canada. We live in a post-Constitutional regime that has moved away from even the ideals of rule-of-law. There is one set of laws for the elites, one set for the middle and one set for the poor and so on. As you point out we too are ruled by a much more diverse array of oligarchs and gangsters (don’t kid yourself, organized crime has been deeply involved in politics for a long time). American elites also deal with troops in the field–if you have the force you get a seat at the table–if you don’t, you don’t count–this is the one thing that the American left just doesn’t have the ability to grasp.

      1. ambrit

        The American “Left” has forgotten its’ own legacy. The “Wobblies” and the ‘Lincoln Brigade’ are not just sentences in a history book. They are reproaches to those masquerading as ‘progressives’ today. Let us not be too parochial either. Those lands to our south have their own long and bloody histories of struggle against reaction. A perfect capsule version of the forces at play today is the history of the Magon brothers from Mexico. So much about their struggle and the reaction against them mirrors what is going on today that I’m tempted to say humans might deserve the disasters coming in our near future.

  8. JEHR

    It is always a mistake reading the “Onion”article first because, after that, you think everything you read is ridiculous or satire!

    1. fresno dan

      The problem is that satire or ridiculousness has become reality, and that the Onion is the closest to the truth of all publications…

    2. susan the other

      I know. How could the Onion disappoint on Black Friday too. I mean, the stench of death in stores is so offensive.

    1. bruno marr

      …yeah, I commented on this software a few days past. Uploaded and ran Detekt and came up clean in less than 5 minutes. ( I also use TOR on a USB drive (selectively) and No Scripts perpetually.)

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Working at Walmart worse than you think.

    Being homeless better than working at Amazon.

    One word: Quality.

    When will the government publish People’s economic data, instead of seeing the economy from the 0.01%’s perspective. We need real inflation (relativity inflation) index, i.e., inflation = food/energy/housing/health care prices – wages. And real employment data, like Job Quality Index, instead of job quantity indices.

    1. ambrit

      Dear MLTPB;
      First, we have to establish a Peoples’ Government. If I remember correctly, out of the Founding Fathers, (What gives, America has no Founding Mothers?,) Franklin was the only true democrat, (small d,). The rest hashed out a Federal Republic. Which Federal Republic we’re still stuck with, if we can keep it.

          1. ambrit

            I’m sorry, but the link to seems to have been hijacked. Please do not use it as it has a red WOT rating.

      1. dannyc

        Frances Perkins is a Founding Mother.
        She was a true democrat, (small d.); although that is hardly the only or the most important reason she qualifies as a founder.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From OEPC, QE4, Illargi

    Some may say and think deflation is a good thing, but I say deflation kills economies and societies. Deflation is not about lower prices, it’s about lower spending..

    Again, relative deflation or People’s deflation is when wages are going up more than food/energy/etc prices, (or not going down as fast or any other such combinations).

    You have to go through each scenario individually. With wages falling and food/health care/housing going up, it’s inflation.

    The Little People have an inflation problem.

    The Capitalists, with their production capacity, worry about deflation. With the 0.01% economics taught at many universities and applied by the 0.01% owned government , you only see this.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Like not all scientific research projects get funded, as often, not always, you have to demonstrative a project’s usefulness to the 0.01%, economics has been developed for its usefulness for the 0.01% (that’s my tinfoil theory). And you see traces of that legacy in how they define inflation and describe employment.

  11. MikeNY

    I thought John McWhorter’s piece on Ferguson was excellent.

    Thanks, I never would have gone to Time for it (my own prejudice…).

    1. dearieme

      I thought it a bit mealy-mouthed; caveated absurdly to cover his arse. Still, his point stands: if you want a martyr, pick someone better than this thug. Speaking as a foreigner, I read about enough cases of US police barging into the wrong house and then shooting the inhabitants that I’m puzzled that that isn’t a good place to begin. Or those cases where a policeman has been demonstrably reckless or cowardly. In the Ferguson case there’s precious little evidence that he was either. And yet I saw a video of such a case in the last few weeks; policemen impatiently shooting an obvious nutcase whom it was their duty to detain, possibly, but not to kill.

      1. OIFVet

        You are entitled to view Mr. Brown as a “thug”. Black males here are viewed as “thugs” by the whites, generally speaking. However, the laws of this land do not give ANYONE the right to be judge, jury, and executioner. Unless he happens to be a white man who kills a black man. In that case the law is disregarded. Its too bad you can’t see the fundamental problems posed by this unequal justice system of ours, and how they might upset other black “thugs”. Michael Brown was executed without a trial and a verdict, and he was executed by a cop who had no idea of the alleged store burglary Michael Brown was accused of. That’s the bottom line.

        1. Propertius

          he was executed by a cop who had no idea of the alleged store burglary Michael Brown was accused of

          He was shot by a cop whom he had allegedly assaulted, but who had no idea of the alleged store robbery (“taking of the property of another from his or her person or in his or her immediate presence, against his or her will, by violence or intimidation”) Brown was accused of. Nobody, to my knowledge, has alleged that Brown broke into the store.

          If roughing up a storekeeper less than half his size doesn’t fit your definition of “thuggish” behavior, could you tell us what does?

          1. OIFVet

            You said it yourself: allegedly. Looking at the photos of Wilson’s alleged injuries, I am reminded of the effect of the August mid-day sun on pasty white skins. No bruises left by the alleged assault committed by the large “thug” Brown. Only redness that looks suspiciously like sunburn. “But the photos were taken on the same day as the assault”, you may protest. Great, where are the photos taken the day after or the day after that, when bruises would have been formed? And why are some of the bullet wounds consistent with injuries sustained by a surrendering suspect? Riddle me this before you continue to insist that the death penalty for blacks can be decided on by a bunch of corn-fed white good old boys hiding behind a police badge.

            As for the alleged assault on the storekeeper, the guilt is supposed to be determined by a court of law. Brown was denied his right to defend himself in court.

          2. Chief Bromden

            There is very little context for the convenience store video confrontation and no conclusive evidence that a theft even took place at all. The “strong arm robbery” is mostly assumed because of the pushing of the store clerk.


            The “thug” narrative works all too conveniently to perceive Brown as something slightly less than human. Maybe that’s why Wilson said he had “demon eyes”. One push (not a fight, not a punch, not a beating) on a grainy convenience store video and you’re ready to make that characterization? There is no criminal record, no juvenile felonies or misdemeanors for Brown, but maybe he’s a thug because of his size.

            Even real thugs aren’t born thugs. They are products of their environment. The same environment created by the class structure Wilson and his colleagues in the poverty management forces are there to preserve. The suspiciously-timed video release was a highly effective narrative builder for the people on the TV.

      2. fresno dan

        November 29, 2014 at 11:45 am

        I agree – I almost have a conspiratorial view of whats going on. The number of cases where the police have unequivocally acted wrong is staggering….yet they are essentially all put down the memory hole. Never the question asked of why so much violence by the police, never any asking if the judges who approve all the search warrants that turn out to be the wrong houses are merely rubber stamps, and not fulfilling their judicial responsibilities. No one even fired for serious wrongs to innocent people….

        What it shows is the police attitude, and than the societal attitude that if one HAS to bring charges against the police, the system will be manipulated to give the least amount of accountability.

        1. optimader

          Based on the convenience store video, Mike Brown was demonstrably a Thug, no room to argue on that point.
          Was the more relevant behavior on the street consistent? Probably, Common sense would say yes, and incidentally we all should acknowledge the videoed Thug behaviour in the store is not directly related to the circumstance that ended in his death.

          Lets go to Basic Principles, being an unarmed stupid teen behaving like a Thug is not reason enough for summary execution on the street.
          If a LEO has the disposition to resort to the ultimate escalation ( shooting a Perp, no less continue shiooting until dead) when it’s not a circumstance of the perp. acting out/threatening imminently deadly violence, then that person should not be an LEO. Period.

          If a Perp assaults anyone, including an LEO I think that IS justification to subdue them for sure, mace/stick/tazer.. Shoot until dead? Yeah not so much. The program is allegedly innocent until proven guilty, followed by court adjudicated remedy/sanction –not summary execution on the street.

          Misrepresenting Mike Browns demonstrated behavior is discrediting several higher level issues at stake here, highest being what are the rules of engagement for an LEO (or a civilian for that matter) to gun someone down who is being offensive. Is someone bumping me w/ a shopping car assault? It can be perceived of as much. Should I then be legally sanctioned to to shoot that person if I can legally carry a gun and I feel threatened (genuinely or not)?

          Frankly,(armchair in full recliner mode) whether or not he killed Mike Brown, I have a huge issue w/ the anyone including LEO discharging a gun in an unsecured urban environment. Nothing Mike Brown did that I am aware of justified escalation to shooting him dead IMO.

          1. Chief Bromden

            1.a violent person, especially a criminal.
            synonyms: ruffian, hooligan, vandal, hoodlum, gangster, villain, criminal;

            If Brown had a history of violent behavior, don’t you think the PTB would have trotted that evidence out before us and punted us to death with it? I agree with the rest of your comment.

            1. Bunk McNulty

              He could be a repeat offender. He could be on the Most Wanted List. He could have been resisting arrest. Even so, there was no capital crime, and while they seem to believe otherwise, the police do not get to be judge, jury, and executioner.

              1. Chief Bromden

                Right, but his entire existence has been reduced to 15 seconds of a security video resulting in a push. Did you ever shove someone when you were a teenager? Were you a “thug”? You would be if the people on the TV wanted to paint it that way.

                1. Optimader

                  I can catagorically state i never hostilely shoved anyone, no less someone half my size as a teenager ( or adult), thats just not the way i was raised. And yes that is thug behaviour –the length of the video is irrelevant.

                  1. Chief Bromden

                    Well good for you. I wasn’t raised to shove people either, but shoving happened in my world…. “thuggish”, aint it? Reckon I must have been a thug who graduated to the “middle class”.

                    The length of the video is relevant in that it does not describe the “body of work” of MB. You don’t know if Brown may or may not have come to the rescue of someone in the past… or been a “hero”… there’s no video evidence of it…. get over yourself.

                    1. Optimader

                      “The length of the video is relevant in that it does not describe the “body of work” of MB. ”

                      Body of work. You’re kidding right?
                      So Thuggish behaviour is “class” stratified? Yikes, do you make this up as you go along?

                    2. Chief Bromden

                      “”He was never a person who liked confrontation,” Mull said. “His smile was going to make you smile.”

                      Neighbors described Brown as quiet and respectful — a “good boy,” who “was never in trouble,” said Sharon Johnson, 58, who lives just a little ways down the street. Johnson said Brown would frequently stop to chat.……“Big Mike,” as some of his friends called Michael Brown Jr., wasn’t the type to fight, family and neighbors said, though he lived in a restless neighborhood where police were on frequent patrol. His parents and neighbors described him as a good-hearted kid with an easy smile…..”He was funny, silly, he would make you laugh,” his father said, and when there was “any problem going on, any situation, there wasn’t nothing that he couldn’t solve. He could bring people back together.”


                      But he was rather large, and he did push someone once on camera…. so he must be a “thug”. That word is important because it fits a narrative that makes his life less valuable, regardless of whether or not it is irrelevant to shitty police state behavior. The word is also important because you and others are using it incorrectly.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I thought it was a good piece, but this paragraph seemed a little iffy to me:

      But I fear the facts on this specific incident are too knotted to coax a critical mass of America into seeing a civil rights icon in Brown and an institutionally racist devil in Wilson.

      What happened to Diallo, Martin, Crawford, and also Oscar Grant is a clearer demonstration of what faces us than what happened in Ferguson.

      What McWhorter seems to be advocating is waiting for the perfect narrative in order to start a movement. But what McWhorter’s “clearer demonstrations” show is that the specific incident is not the requirement. If it were, we would have had “Brooklyn!,” or “Oakland!” as opposed to “Ferguson!” But we don’t. Why? I’d suggest that the reason we have Ferguson, with a possibly “less clear” demonstration, as opposed to other cities, with “more clear” demonstrations, is that the organizing around Ferguson was orders of magnitude better. (Look at the variation in tactics and their geographical spread.) Why that is, I don’t know. I’d hazard a guess that it’s got to do with the Ferguson milieu, and perhaps its “heartland” (as opposed to coastal) position in a former slave state. St. Louis is just more central, perhaps.

      McWhorter doesn’t want to admit organic factors are the drivers, not narratives.

      1. MikeNY

        Yes, that’s a good point. And, if we have to wait for someone ‘immaculate’, it could be a very long wait, human nature being what it is.

        The problem is systemic, not related to just one individual, as McWhorter points out, and I entirely agree.

        1. Lambert Strether

          “Systemic” is surely true. Then we have the issue of the nature of the systems. And the systems nest. And have different ownership structures. There are spandrels. And on and on.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Your comment about organic factors not narratives driving events is very insightful. I wondered why Ferguson? I suspect you are right about it being something about the Ferguson milieu. My guess is that Ferguson has retained a sense of community lacking in the much larger communities of Oakland or Brooklyn. I suspect many of the people in Ferguson knew Mr. Brown, or knew about him, and the store and perhaps also knew Officer Wilson. We need the Paul Harvey “rest of the story”.

        In any case, I recall the many articles referenced in past blog posting here describing the randomness of what become “Potemkin” events. McWhorter seems to be asking, “Why Potemkin mutiny instead of the march on the Winter Palace?”

      3. trish

        and I wonder too if another factor might be that so many in Ferguson were/are victims of the shakedown by the “offender-funded” [in]justice system there (fines and fees for every piddling offense and infraction often to the point of indebtedness)?

        oppression of the poor particularly African-Americans is obviously systemic across the country but this is such grotesquely obvious in-their-faces profiteering off the poor. And so many in Ferguson affected.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree with Vet. The rules of engagement for police dealing with the public, are beyond the bounds of any measure for what is just, necessary, or right. Deadly force for dealing with Mr. Brown is nothing less than murder by law. Drug gangs often deal in random street justice. How should I regard our police in that light?
      As for John McWhorter’s suggestion that Mr. Brown makes a poor poster boy – I believe the injustice is just as stark as for any of the cases McWhorter cites. If Mr. Brown were as tainted as McWhorter suggests, something I cannot accept on its face and have neither time nor interest nor resources to verify, then who better as a poster child? The matter should be judged for how the police should deal with the least deserving suspects. For the cases McWhorter cites and the Dorner case cited in a comment above the wrong is too plain, too clear-cut to provide the fine line that needs to be drawn.

      There are other matters around this case – if Mr. Brown were so very dangerous – why was the officer alone? Was he wearing his vest? Did he have a vest to wear? I am not in law enforcement, so presumably someone more knowledgeable will address this point – I doubt that an armed suspect without cover would fire on two well-trained and armed police officers wearing vests. I guess I am wondering how well the officers in Ferguson are trained, and how well they are supported by their department. Recalling the Diallo case, after being appalled by the police action and the lack of consequences for the officers involved, I was shocked by the number of bullets fired at close range that did not hit Diallo. It is a good thing no one else was standing near the door. What kind of training did those officers have? How did they ever they qualify for marksmanship on the firing range – or did they qualify?

      Another thought, did the police department consider that something was very wrong with their relationship with the Ferguson community if their officers felt so fearful and threatened they believe deadly force is necessary to deal with an unarmed suspect 125 ft. away? [Estimating distance from Brown’s running 150 ft. from the police car and then back 25 ft. toward Officer Wilson.] If the distance was really 125 ft. Officer Wilson must be an excellent marksman. What risk was he taking of his shot or shots missing Mr. Brown and striking some unintended target? Police rules or not, Officer Wilson’s decision to fire at Mr. Brown seems ill considered. I am not aware of anything that would indicate Mr. Brown posed a serious threat to public safety sufficient to warrant the risk of firing a gun at him to stop him from leaving the scene. Suppose Mr. Brown got away. How hard should it be to catch him in a community where the police enjoyed any sort of rapport with the community? Suppose Mr. Brown were guilty and he were not caught. What dire consequences would result from that?

      Suppose Mr. Brown were much closer to Officer Wilson and posed a serious threat of doing harm to the officer. I do not understand why a reasonably well-trained police officer couldn’t make short work of Mr. Brown. A jab to the solar plexus with a nightstick is not something Mr. Brown could just shake off. I have watched police officers training in Krav Maga. Most of the men and women I saw training could take Mr. Brown down without using the nightstick. How can our police justify the immediate escalation to deadly force written into their rules for dealing with the public? Regardless of other concerns, the escalation shows a wanton disregard for public safety. This rule is like whatever rules guide police in initiating a high speed vehicle chase to apprehend a suspect.

      Suppose Mr. Brown were guilty of robbing the store and roughing up the clerk, and suppose he were stopped and arrested. What would that mean for Mr. Brown and his family? Until the Vietnam War, we were drafting adolescent young men to fight in a foreign war for reasons yet to be explained. To remedy this, rather than raising the draft age the age of full adult responsibility was lowered by statute to age 18. As an adult how many years in prison would Mr. Brown face? The McWhorter article talks of assault and robbery but what exactly do these terms mean at law now? What exactly happened in the store? Why did it occur? As I understand the law, just touching a police officer can be treated as an assault. Am I correct in thinking, if a kid picks up two cigars from the store, the kid is shoplifting but if the clerk stops the kid as the kid is leaving and the kid shoves the clerk away it becomes robbery and assault. If the kid is 18 years old or older the robbery and assault is a high degree felony that can mean many years in prison. How do we get away with calling our legal system a system of Justice?

      Why does the Ferguson event so stir the public, given the many other more egregious cases of police street justice? I suspect we are nearing the tender point for widespread “misbehavior”. I do not think Ferguson is a trigger event. It is a clear warning of a coming long hot summer if things remain as they are.

      1. bruno marr


        Eleven or twelve bullets were fired by Officer Wilson. Six or Seven struck Mike Brown. This event was an execution; nothing more, nothing less.

  12. rich

    Hunter Biden & The Carlyle Group: Ukrainian Gasbags

    Boston Globe reported:

    (Vice President Joe) Biden and his wife stayed at the home of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein and ate a Thanksgiving feast prepared by dinner prepared by Bill Puder, chef at Faregrounds restaurant on the island.

    I’ll venture the conversation drifted to Ukrainian gas and how Carlyle’s energy infrastructure can help Europe free itself of Russian dependency. USAID came forward to guarantee loans for companies developing energy in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. One such firm has a young Biden on its board of directors.

    What was under the PEU serving platter at Mr. Rubenstein’s Abrams Point compound? Fortunately, the last four Congresses pardoned carried interest taxation. Now that’s service.

    turkeys were served?

    1. susan the other

      Interesting. And not a word about the price of oil going below the survival price of fracked oil and gas. The only point worth mentioning. But clearly the participants would not give thanx for that. So too off topic.

  13. Luke The Debtor

    OPEC’s Dilema by former BP economist Cristof Ruhl.

    The argument for production cuts is to bring prices back up. The argument for leaving production levels broadly intact traditionally may have been to lend support to a fragile global economic recovery – and hence oil consumption growth. However, increasingly a second argument has gained currency, namely to maintain production in order to undermine price sensitive American shale oil growth, which would be hurt by lower prices. How price sensitive US shale oil (and Canadian oil sands) are is today’s multi-billion Dollar question (quite literally). It is this second idea that is the relevant strategic consideration today.

    OPEC may be negatively affected by either cuts or status quo. The only alternative may be for OPEC and other producers to produce more oil.

    1. OIFVet

      Wow. What’s next, leasing your own slave? Still, I can’t say I have much sympathy for the couple though: they wanted and $500 purebred puppy that they admitted they can’t afford. It makes it sound like they wanted a status symbol. There are plenty of puppies that are sitting in shelters waiting to be rescued, and the fact that they are not purebred doesn’t make lesser beings. If anything, they are better companions for people who can’t afford $500 puppy because they are healthier than purebreds. If you can’t afford $500 puppy than you can’t afford its vet bills, and having a pet but being unable to care for it is inhumane, IMO. These people’s previous purebred lived 7 years. Rather short life for a pet, and possible indication of insufficient vet care.

  14. fresno dan

    Calling Out the Corruption in Medical Care Patient Safety. The problem with health metrics.

    “Medical care is not just another marketplace commodity,” they conclude. “Physicians should never have an incentive to override the best interests of their patients.”

    It seems to me this is analogous to our legal system, where more and more discretion has been taken away from judges….and the old aphorism, “the law is an as*” becomes the “the law is a super as*”
    Medicine and justice, are often too complex that a simple one size fits all rule will apply. Start adding financial incentives while degrading the honor and professionalism of a craft, and we’re in for many years of those charts that show us spending more on healthcare than other nations but being less healthy.

  15. OIFVet

    Scammers never take a day off, do they? Thanksgiving morning it was a sales call for a deregulated, overpriced energy supplier. Ok, so I felt kind of bad going off on the poor guy, especially after he said “At least you can afford not to work on Thanksgiving.” Point taken. Class warfare doesn’t take time off for any holiday, particularly Thanksgiving. But then there was “Shawn from Windows service center”, with a heavy foreign accent, trying to PC sent Microsoft trouble report and I need to grant “Shawn” full access to my computer so that he could “fix it.” It would be funny if there weren’t people who actually fall for that. What is most infuriating is the sheer disregard for the supposed DNC list. So the law can do nothing against foreign scammers, but what is the excuse for the total disregard of the list by the domestic scammers selling overpriced electrical supply and predatory small business loans?

  16. ella

    “My insurance company killed me”. Given his age, I assume that his plan was a Medicare Advantage plan. If so, welcome to privatized Medicare. Many family doctors will only accept Medicare Advantage. Medicare is being slowly privatized. Thanks Congress and GWB; mission accomplished!

  17. EmilianoZ

    Amazon’s work practices sound like a caricature of the Charlie Chaplin’s movie. It’s like when Snowden showed that the current technology is far worse than what Orwell imagined.

  18. Jay M

    The deflation of the petroleum sector does not seem wise when one consider the cost of the marginal barrel of oil. The deflation of oil prices will undercut capitalization of the rigs that are being used to frac the various shales that underlay the play.
    Peak oil is very much about the notion that you can’t use more than a barrel of oil to get another. Monetary gain is being wrung out of this deployment of national enthusiasm, fracing the various shale formations.
    Transportation of this stuff is delusional.
    Another case of thirteen dimensional chess which isn’t really.

  19. Jerry Denim

    Time Mag: ” I mourn Brown as we all do, but I worry that we have chosen the wrong tragedy to wake this country up.”

    Ya think? Completely innocent men are being shot in stairwells for attempting to retrieve their identification and babies are having their faces burned off in their cribs by police flash grenades and left leaning media and the blogosphere choose Mike Brown as the victim to rally America against police violence?

    Your average Faux News white Republican is 100% convinced Barack Obama is a Kenyan born, manchurian-candiate Muslim, flaming socialist lefty, but yet intelligent left-leaning media types who haven’t been able to penetrate the cacophony of the right wing propaganda machine with facts or reason in decades somehow thought a dead six foot four inch black teenager who committed strong arm robbery on video moments before he wrestled with a police officer over his weapon inside the cop’s cruiser would be a good victim to rally the entire nation? The average white conservative-leaning citizen views Michael Brown about as sympathetically as OJ Simpson, and nobody is ever going to convince them otherwise with a video of Brown shoving a tiny little Indian shop-keeper into a display case and part of his blown-off thumb inside of Wilson’s cruiser. Even attempting an argument to the contrary in the face of these damning facts only relegates the ‘Saint Brown’ advocate to the status of lefty-looney bird in the eyes of those blind to white privilege and predatory for-profit policing.

    It infuriates me that the media was allowed to turn this whole sordid affair into a simplistic “he said/ he said” white vs. black, law vs. lawlessness story because that was never why the people of Ferguson were pissed in the first place. They were victimized, antagonized and treated as a resource to be strip-mined by the ‘justice’ system for the profit of a few white cops and over-paid municipal bureaucrats. The real story was predatory for profit for policing, inequality, the hollowed out economy of the heartland (trade policy), red-lining/white flight, and of course the militarization of the police. Ferguson was a perfect poster child for so many of the nation’s woes, but all these great lessons on display in Ferguson were lost when those on the left and the aggrieved in Ferguson allowed the narrative to become a simple matter of race and personalities, detached from the greater context, solely focused on a few seconds in time when a tragic shooting unfolded. Its a real damn shame because the long-suffering people of Ferguson AND red-state America have a hell of a lot to be angry about besides Michael Brown’s violent death. It was almost too easy for media to shine the light in all the wrong places with this sad affair.

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